by: Bill Plunk [ ]
IntroductionIn 1941 German designers produced a prototype tank destroyer vehicle design based on a Pzkpw IV Ausf D chassis in combination with a modified Kanone 18 10.5cm gun to produce what has come to be known as the K.Pz.Sfl.IVa “Dicker Max”. The Dicker Max was developed at roughly the same time as its bigger brother, the Sturer Emil, and 2 prototype vehicles were produced for evaluation purposes. Both vehicles were sent to the Eastern Front to Pz.Jg.Abt. 521 where they served with distinction. One of the vehicles was destroyed in combat with the other returned to Juterbog in 1942 and withdrawn from service. The DML kit reproduces these rare vehicles using available technical diagrams, design materials, and available photos since a surviving example does not exist with credits given to Thomas Anderson for technical assistance and to Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson who served as technical consultants on the project. The kit does not carry any special designation of “Smart”, “Premium”, or “Super” but is listed under the ’39-’45 Series of kits as #6357.
What’s In The BoxThe box contents come packed in the standard DML arrangement of sprues within individually sealed plastic bags and a Dragon Card with various smaller items attached to it as is standard in DML kits.
Over 750 parts are present in the form of:
• 19 sprues in light gray styrene
• One-piece hull tub
• One-piece superstructure with a protective clear plastic tray on the bottom
• 1 clear styrene sprue
• PE brass fret
• 2 separate bags of handed “Magic” Tracks
• 1 bag of individual rubber rims for the road wheels
• 2 optional styrene idler wheels in their own bag
• 1 length of braided wire for the tow cables
• Turned aluminum barrel
• 1 decal marking sheet.
All of the sprues are cleanly molded with no evidence of flash present with slide molding used on many to produce a high level of detail on multiple surfaces.
The Instructions provided are of the “exploded” diagram variety and consist of 25 steps with internal sub-steps/assemblies as needed and a markings/finishing page for 3 vehicle options. The options provided along with the decal sheet are for: Factory Scheme Germany 1941, Pz.Jg.Abt. 521 Eastern Front 1941, and SP gun returned to Juterbog 1942 Pz.Jg.Abt. 521. An additional supplemental brochure detailing the “Inside Story” on many of the researched features is also provided and doubles as a helpful guide in determining which of the kit options to use depending on which of the 3 schemes are chosen for your build.
Lower Hull and SuspensionAn all-new lower hull is provided as a one-piece tub modified to reflect the specific Dicker Max characteristics with much of the suspension showing the heritage of the Pzkpw IV C-D-E “Super Kits” previously released by DML in their assembly and details. A further give-away are the sprue labels for different sections as “Pzkpw IV” vs. others labeled “Dicker Max” with many of the Pzkpw IV parts marked off as “Not for Use” on the instruction sheet.
The road wheels and rubber rims are separate and the suspension bogie assemblies are multi-part affairs for each pair. Options are provided for the idler wheel assemblies to either incorporate the provided PE details with the specially provided one-piece idlers or utilize the standard two-piece styrene idlers. Tracks are provided as non-workable individual link “Magic” Tracks and are handed, coming molded specifically for the right and left side of the vehicle and are molded in a slightly different color from each other as an added feature to help distinguish them. The tracks are the correct 36cm type with open guidehorns common to Pzkpw III and IV vehicles in 1941.
Upper Hull and FendersThe upper hull glacis design includes the early Pzkpw IV brake access hatch details and specially sloped and configured glacis suitable for the Dicker Max. A driver’s compartment is also included but does not include any interior detail for this area either internally to the compartment or the internal surface of the driver’s hatch, leaving room for the AM sector to provide an interior in the future perhaps.
The fenders are provided in styrene and have molded detail on both surfaces. A variety of on board tools are provided, some with molded clamps and some without, requiring the use of provided PE parts to complete them in the case of those without. Examples are the jack mounts and spare track link holders which do not have an alternative styrene option provided.
Fighting Compartment and InteriorSince this is an open-top vehicle, DML has provided a highly detailed gun mount assembled via multiple steps and using many small detail parts in sub-assemblies to achieve the final construction. Two different muzzle brakes are provided as separate parts for fitting to either the kit supplied styrene barrel or turned aluminum barrel based on the builder’s preference without any surgery required. One muzzle brake is suitable for the Factory Scheme while the other matches the actual brake used in combat.
The interior of the compartment includes detailed ammunition storage lockers that can be posed open with some modification if desired. As an added bonus, the kit includes a sprue of “German Equipment” from the Gen2 figure sets to add crew equipment such as gas mask canisters, canteens, helmets, etc. as well as provide a “lived in” feel if desired. Other details such as a battery box, "rabbit ears" periscope, barrel cleaning staff and swab, “potato masher” grenade racks with grenades molded in place, and 4 artillery rounds and cases are also included to round out the interior layout.
ConclusionOverall the kit appears to be well engineered with a high level of attention to detail in all respects. At over 750 parts, there's quite a bit that comes in the box. Those familiar with the “Super Kit” series of early model Pzkpw IV's will feel right at home as this kit has more in common with that type than the more recent “Smart Kit” series which includes the Pzkpw IV F2 (G). The kit represents a rare vehicle in the German arsenal and is the first styrene kit in 1/35 to be made available and is up to the modern standards we’ve come to expect from the latest new releases.